The Remarkable Life of William Beebe: Explorer and Naturalist

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When William Beebe needed to know what was going on in the depths of the ocean, he had himself lowered a half-mile down in a four-foot steel sphere to see-five times deeper than anyone had ever gone in the 1930s. When he wanted to trace the evolution of pheasants in 1910, he trekked on foot through the mountains and jungles of the Far East to locate every species. To decipher the complex ecology of the tropics, he studied the interactions of every creature and plant in a small area from the top down, setting the emerging field of tropical ecology into dynamic motion.

William Beebe's curiosity about the natural world was insatiable, and he did nothing by halves. As the first biographer to see the letters and private journals Beebe kept from 1887 until his death in 1962, science writer Carol Grant Gould brings the life and times of this groundbreaking scientist and explorer compellingly to light.

From the Galapagos Islands to the jungles of British Guiana, from the Bronx Zoo to the deep seas, Beebe's biography is a riveting adventure. A best-selling author in his own time, Beebe was a fearless explorer and thoughtful scientist who put his life on the line in pursuit of knowledge. The unique glimpses he provided into the complex web of interactions that keeps the earth alive and breathing have inspired generations of conservationists and ecologists. This exciting biography of a great naturalist brings William Beebe at last to the recognition he deserves.

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Editorial Reviews

Natural History
"Drawing on Crane's records, made available in 1989, and a host of other sources, Gould has written an engrossing account of Beebe's professional and personal life, effectively compressing his decades of hyperactivity into a mere 400 pages."
Seattle Times
"[Gould] has written a biography worthy of Beebe. It makes compelling and, better yet, inspiring reading for anyone interested in the natural world."
Natural History Magazine
"Drawing on Crane's records, made available in 1989, and a host of other sources, Gould has written an engrossing account of Beebe's professional and personal life, effectively compressing his decades of hyperactivity into a mere 400 pages."
The New York Times
"A vivid portrait."
author of Conservation and Biodiversity - Andrew P. Dobson
"William Beebe's life and work form a vital link between the age of Wallace and Darwin and today's heroes of conservation. Carol Gould's magnificent biography vividly brings Beebe to life. His life should be an inspiration both to future conservation biologists and to anyone who started out collecting bugs in their own back yard."
discoverer of the Titanic - Dr. Robert D. Ballard
"William Beebe was one of my boyhood heroes, who I followed through his articles in National Geographic Magazine. Now, thanks to the wonderful and thorough research of Carol Gould, I know the man behind those stories."
Senior Conservationist, Wildlife Conservation Society - William Conway
"A childhood spent collecting bugs and birds led William Beebe to a job at the Bronx Zoo and then to an extraordinary career of exploration, science, and writing. He wrote so beautifully of tropical and undersea wildlife that his books influenced thousands, he went deeper than anyone ever before to observe ocean depths, and he carried out plant-by-plant, bird-by-bird, beetle-by-butterfly studies that were among the first in tropical ecology. And yet he still found time to become a confidant of Teddy Roosevelt, a familiar of Noël Coward and Katherine Hepburn, and an accomplished tennis player. Carol Gould gained first access to Beebe's meticulous notes but delved much deeper. The result is an engrossing portrait of a very human but unusually important naturalist of the 20th century."
author of Lives of a Biologist - John Tyler Bonner
"In this delightful book Carol Gould has brought to light something we may have forgotten: the intensive pursuit of natural history in the early part of the twentieth century. And there is no better way of telling the story than around the central and fascinating figure of William Beebe."
Natural History

"Drawing on Crane's records, made available in 1989, and a host of other sources, Gould has written an engrossing account of Beebe's professional and personal life, effectively compressing his decades of hyperactivity into a mere 400 pages."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597261074
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Series: QSI Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

CAROL GRANT GOULD has written for publications ranging from The New York Times to Psychology Today and Harpers . She is coauthor ofBiological Science (Norton, 1997),  The Honey Bee (Scientific American Library,1988), Sexual Selection (Scientific American Library, 1989), and The Animal Mind (Scientific American Library, 1994).

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Table of Contents

PART I. Naturalist
Chapter 1. Counting Crows
Chapter 2. Fledging
Chapter 3. Portrait of the Naturalist as a Young Man
Chapter 4. Sailing North
Chapter 5. The Scientists' Apprentice
Chapter 6. Bronx Zoological Park
Chapter 7. Widening Horizons
Chapter 8. Nestbuilding
PART II. Ornithologist
Chapter 9. Flying South
Chapter 10. Migration
Chapter 11. The Naturalist as Author
Chapter 12. Rain Forest at Last
Chapter 13. In Search of Wildness
Chapter 14. City Lights
Chapter 15. Pheasant Jungles
Chapter 16. Western Himalayas
Chapter 17. Bearing East
Chapter 18. Recalibration
Chapter 19. Betrayal
Chapter 20. Wilderness Found
Chapter 21. Jungle Peace
PART III. Marine Biologist
Chapter 22. The Encantadas
Chapter 23. New York Aerie
Chapter 24. The Arcturus Adventure
Chapter 25. Fire and Water
Chapter 26. Elswyth
Chapter 27. Bermuda Diary
Chapter 28. Out of the Depths
Chapter 29. On the Air
Chapter 30. Half Mile Down
Chapter 31. Fishing
PART IV. Tropical Ecologist
Chapter 32. Ocean to Jungle
Chapter 33. Rancho Grande
Chapter 34. High Jungle
Chapter 35. Simla
Chapter 36. Home to Roost
Chapter 37. Simla Sunset
Selected Bibliography
Sources of Illustrations

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